A restaurant’s menu might come across as a simple list of dishes, but it’s actually a highly engineered, strictly crafted work of branding.
When designing a menu — digital or print — restaurants can use a number of tricks and strategies to influence customers’ decisions and boost sales. Here’s some info about how to maximize your menu design.
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Appetizers: Statistics About Menus
- 80% of a restaurant’s profits come from 20% of its food items.
- When restaurants write out prices in letters (e.g. twelve), customers spend 30% more.
- 59% of consumers note that they’re more likely to purchase an item if it’s described as “seasonal.”
- 75% of Americans note are more likely to choose a restaurant if it offers some healthy dishes on the menu.
- 63% of consumers read menus to look for specials.
- 33% of consumers usually order the cheapest item listed on a menu board simply because it’s usually the easiest to find.
Entrées: Breaking Down The Design
- Photos: Simply including an image of a dish can increase overall sales by up to 30%. But too many photos can overcrowd the menu, so choose your photos wisely.
- Layout: When looking at a menu, your eyes naturally gravitate to the upper right-hand portion. Place your most popular and profitable dishes there.
- Negative Space: Putting blank space (i.e. negative space) around an item will help to draw attention to it. Items with big profit margins should be surrounded with negative space.
- Descriptions: Well-written descriptions can boost sales by 30%. Descriptions highlight quality, e.g., “Fresh, wild-caught, Alaskan Salmon” instead of “The Salmon.”
- Color: Darker colors like blue are calming, while others (like red or yellow) tend to excite. Pick your color palette based on the emotions you want to evoke.
- Distractions: By placing more affordably priced items (like a $25 halibut dish) below expensive ones, consumers will opt for the cheaper dishes, believing that they’re picking meals that are reasonably priced.
- Numbers: Dollar signs ($) tend to remind guests that they’re parting with money. So many restaurants simply drop the price tag. Writing out the actual number with letters also conveys a sense of sophistication.
- Limiting Options: Placing a limited number of dishes (like seven dishes per category) on a menu not only makes preparation time easier, but it also helps diners feel less stressed about making the “incorrect choice.”
Dessert: Digital Menus
- 70% of consumers use restaurant technologies, websites or apps to read a restaurant’s menu.
- 16% of restaurant operators use digital menu boards.
- A properly organized digital menu board can boost sales by 5%
- Digital menus can be interactive — some let customers order through the interface, or even let customers play music or games.
- Visually engaging — digital menus can feature fun animations, and they can also feature visually appealing videos and pictures.
- Customizable — thanks to the rise of smart phones, digital menus can be customized to appeal to a customer on an individual basis. Menus can target individual customers via their smart phones, sending promotions or offering discounts.